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Grief
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Resource Description: 
The mission of The Dougy Center is to provide support in a safe place where children, teens, young adults and their families grieving a death can share their experiences.
Helpguide’s mission is to provide you and your family with mental health information you can trust. Our expert, ad-free resources empower you with the knowledge and encouragement you need to take charge of your life and make healthy choices. We believe that with support and self-help options, you can understand, prevent, and resolve many of life’s challenges.
Specializes in reviews of clinical effectiveness research, with easy-to-read summaries for consumers as well as full technical reports.
Episode number: 
901
Transcript: 
Grief (transcript)

(Source: PubMed / NIH) Grief is a reaction to a major loss. It is most often an unhappy and painful emotion. Grief may be triggered by the death of a loved one. People also can experience grief if they have an illness for which there is no cure, or a chronic condition that affects their quality of life. The end of a significant relationship may also cause a grieving process.

Stages of grief

Everyone feels grief in their own way. However, there are common stages to the process of mourning. It starts with recognizing a loss and continues until a person eventually accepts that loss. People's responses to grief will be different, depending on the circumstances of the death.

For example, if the person who died had a chronic illness, the death may have been expected. The end of the person's suffering might even have come as a relief. If the death was accidental or violent, coming to a stage of acceptance might take longer.

Syptoms of grief

One way to describe grief is in five stages. These reactions might not occur in a specific order, and can (at times) occur together. Not everyone experiences all of these emotions:

  • Denial, disbelief, numbness
  • Anger, blaming others
  • Bargaining (for instance "If I am cured of this cancer, I will never smoke again.")
  • Depressed mood, sadness, and crying
  • Acceptance, coming to terms

People who are grieving may have crying spells, some trouble sleeping, and lack of productivity at work.

Signs and tests

Your health care provider will perform a physical exam and ask questions about your symptoms, including your sleep and appetite. Symptoms that last for a while may lead to clinical depression.

Treatment of grief

Family and friends can offer emotional support during the grieving process. Sometimes outside factors can affect the normal grieving process, and people might need help from:

  • Clergy
  • Mental health specialists
  • Self-help groups
  • Social workers

The acute phase of grief usually lasts up to 2 months. Some milder symptoms may last for a year or longer. Psychological counseling may help a person who is unable to face the loss (absent grief reaction), or who has depression with grieving.

Grief support groups

You can help the stress of grieving by joining a support group, where members share common experiences and problems.

See also:

References

  1. Powell AD. Grief, bereavement, and adjustment disorders. In: Stern TA, Rosenbaum JF, Fava M, Biederman J, Rauch SL, eds. Massachusetts General Hospital Comprehensive Clinical Psychiatry. 1st ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2008:chap 38.
  2. Kutner JS, Kilbourn KM. Bereavement: Addressing challenges faced by advanced cancer patients, their caregivers, and their physicians. Prim Care. 2009;36:825-844. PubMed
  3. Simon NM, Wall MM, Keshaviah A, Dryman MT, LeBlanc NJ, Shear MK. Informing the symptom profile of complicated grief. Depress Anxiety. 2011;28(2):118-126. PMC free article PubMed

Source: PubMed / NIH  

Key Point 1

Grief is a natural response to loss. It's the emotional suffering you feel when something or someone you love is taken away. Trying to ignore your pain or keep it from surfacing may only make it worse in the long run.

 

Key Point 2

Grief can be complicated…even dysfunctional.  It is important for you to work with your healthcare team if grief is affecting your health and your daily life.  And whether it is through conversation or acts of goodness, connecting to others can help you heal.

Medline Plus

Medline Description: 

Interactive Medical Search logoConduct an off-site search for Grief from MedlinePlus.  These up-to-date search results are based on search terms specific to Second Opinion Key Points.

 ▪ Bereavement

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